Sally Wilde, who for many years was a card and gift agent gift covering Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Bristol and Dorset, has now opened her own card, stationery and gift shop – Planet Sal – in Honiton, Devon.
“I had a hankering to open a shop, mainly as I had been calling on fantastic independents of all kinds for a long time and so admired their determination to keep the High Street alive, interesting and varied,” says Sally.
Sally’s background is in retail, with her first job at a large cookshop in Bristol. “They let me do a lot of display work, which was right up my street. I only intended to stick at for a year or two, but I found that I loved it and ended up there for ten years,” she told PG Buzz.
She went on to work as a sales rep for the peppermill company, Cole & Mason, covering the South West and it was there that she “discovered the joys of the open road as a rep.”
In 2004 Sally met Julie Ballam (well known sales agent) who encouraged Sally to set up as a gift and card agent, covering Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Bristol and Dorset. “I totally fell in love with the industry,” says Sally. “There is so much talent in the UK and, being a newbie agent, I was lucky enough to pick up some new publishers and watch them grow. I specialised in the ‘quirkier’ side of the market and found my niche there – picking up some larger companies as I became established.”
In 2014, she started as a full time representative with homewares company Creative Tops but, sadly, was made redundant late last year when the company amalgamated with another one.
“After a lot of thought, I decided that I did not want to keep driving away from glorious East Devon every morning – it was time to settle,” says Sally and to open her own shop.
“I chose Honiton because of its great selection of existing shops and the busy vibe of the town,” says Sally. “I looked at a couple of other shops to start with but, a bit like buying a house, you sort of ‘know’ when the right one comes along – and 3 Black Lion Court was it!”
Sally had a lot of work ahead to transform the shop from its existing format as a music shop, but local tradesmen and friends helped her to get there. “Grant Petley from Paper Gangsta, Bristol and David Collins from Brilliant! in Southbourne need a special mention for all their advice – as do the wonderful agents, who found themselves in the awkward position of selling to one of their own!”
The shop very much reflects the kind of designs Sally carried as an agent – ‘something different’ in the selection of cards, stationery and gifts, supporting smaller, UK designers such as Brainbox Candy, Dean Morris, Sooshichacha and Hype.
“Everyone has been very complimentary and friendly since I arrived, which has given me a huge boost,” says Sally. “I hope to be bringing smiles and stardust to Honiton for many years!”